21 January 2017

USA: Defense Secretary Issues Message to Nation’s ‘Sentinels and Guardians’

James Mattis (Image: Wiki Commons)
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2017 — Almost immediately after taking office this evening, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a message to the men and women of the Defense Department.

Here is the text of the secretary’s message:

It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.

USA: Trump Vows to Put American Interests First in all Decisions

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2017 — America’s military has a new commander in chief as Donald J. Trump took the oath of office today as the 45th president of the United States.

“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people,” the president said after taking the oath from Chief Justice John Roberts. “Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.”

Trump added, “We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.”

News Report: Foreign Forces' Drone Strikes Kill Four Daesh Militants in Eastern Afghanistan

Four fighters of the Daesh terrorist group were killed by foreign drones in eastern Afghanistan, according to governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — At least four militants affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) jihadist group were killed in drone strikes carried out by the foreign forces in eastern Afghanistan, provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said on Friday, as cited by local media.

The drone strikes were conducted in Bandr Khor area of Nangarhar province, on the eastern border with Pakistan, according to the spokesman, the TOLOnews outlet reported. No casualties to civilians were caused by the airstrikes.

Afghanistan is suffering from the activity of Taliban, a militant group formed in the 1990s, seeking to establish a strict Sharia law in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The crisis in the country prompted the emergence of local cells of other extremist organizations such as the IS terrorist group, outlawed in Russia and Afghanistan.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: US Military Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing in Japanese Okinawa

A US military helicopter had to make an emergency landing on an island in the western Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, Japanese media reported Friday, citing the country's Defense Ministry.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) –The malfunctions made the helicopter to land on a road on Ikei-jima Island, the NHK broadcaster reported.

The media outlet added that the ministry had not reported about any injuries caused by the accident.

The island of Okinawa is the place of significant US military presence in Japan, within the framework of the US-Japan security treaty signed in 1951.

The presence of US troops has been repeatedly criticized by Okinawa's residents, due to a number of US military personnel crimes, as well as because of US aircraft crashes in the vicinity of their airbases located on the island.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Japan, S Korea, US Conduct Military Drills to Counter N. Korea's Missile Threat

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Pacific Fleet
Japan, South Korea and the United States are conducting military drills on January 20-22 to prepare for a potential missile launch from the territory of North Korea, media reported Friday, citing a source in the South Korean military.

TOKYO (Sputnik) – According to the Kyodo news agency, Japanese, South Korean and US destroyer ships equipped with Aegis combat systems are taking part in the drills, where they are expected to act out a scenario of a possible launch of an intercontinental missile from the territory of North Korea.

On September 5, 2016, Pyongyang launched three ballistic missiles in the direction of the Sea of Japan. Several days later it conducted a successful test of a nuclear warhead, which is believed to be the fifth and largest blast since Pyongyang began pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In the latest New Year's address to the nation, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country was finalizing preparations for another intercontinental ballistic missile test.

On January 8, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the country was ready to launch a ballistic missile at any time and from any location. On the same day, former diplomat at the North Korean embassy in London Thae Yong Ho, who defected to South Korea in 2016, stated that North Korea sought to complete the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by the end of 2017 or in early 2018.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Taiwan Expects Closer US Military Ties, More High-Level Visits Under Trump

Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI — Diplomatically isolated Taiwan looks forward to more military cooperation and high-level visits from the United States under Donald Trump after he takes office as U.S. president Friday, though both sides are likely to proceed carefully to avoid a backlash from China.

Trump has said in comments as late as last week that he’s open to renegotiating U.S. policy that forbids seeing self-ruled Taiwan as its own country. China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, has reacted in anger, including a request that an informal Taiwanese delegation not attend Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

Analysts in Taipei and the United States expect the Trump administration to work with China on its political terms - known as the "one-China" policy toward Taiwan.

But at the same time Trump would build a strong informal relationship with Taiwan in place since the 1970s, especially if helpful to business. Washington broke officials ties with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of the larger, fast-growing China.

A boost in informal ties would probably bring arms sales, military exchanges and a boost in senior-level visitors to Taiwan, experts say.

News Story: Trump WH Makes It Official - Bigger Navy, Air Force & ‘End’ To Sequestration

By COLIN CLARK

WASHINGTON: Soon after President Donald Trump took the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” the White House posted two documents declaring they would boost the size of the Navy and Air Force, increase our offensive and defensive cyber capabilities and end sequestration.

In the first document, Making Our Military Strong Again, the Trump Administration declares that the U.S. “cannot allow other nations to surpass our military capability” and will “pursue the highest level of military readiness.”

While few specifics were offered, the document does say the US will “develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based attacks from states like Iran and North Korea.”

In the second document, the America First Foreign Policy, the Trump Administration declares that “Peace through strength will be at the center” of its foreign policy.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: Mattis confirmed by Senate as new U.S. defense secretary

James Mattis (Image: Wiki Commons)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- James Mattis, U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary, was easily confirmed by the Senate on Friday.

In an overwhelming vote, Mattis became the first confirmed member of Trump's cabinet, hours after Trump was sworn in as the 45th U.S. President.

Earlier, Trump signed a waiver legislation after his inauguration to clear a legal barrier for Mattis to take office.

Under the U.S. law, a former service member is barred from running the Pentagon less than seven years after retirement from military. Mattis only retired in 2013 as the Commander of the U.S. Central Command. Trump signed the measure to grant Mattis an one-time exception.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Apprehension as New Zealand wakes up to Trump presidency

WELLINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Uncertainty marked reactions in New Zealand to U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Protest marches, under the "Love Trumps Hate" banner, against the divisions sparked by Trump were set for the capital Wellington and the largest city of Auckland on Saturday.

One of the protest leaders is U.S.-born Green Party Member of Parliament Julie Anne Genter.

In a Facebook posting earlier in the week, Genter said Donald Trump epitomized "some of the worst extremes of human nature: greed, cruelty, sexual violence, anger, misuse of power."

"His election to president of the United States by a small fraction of the overall population demonstrates how broken democracy is in America," wrote Genter.

"We need to find new ways of doing politics if we are going to solve the problems facing humanity in the 21st century."

The government has been circumspect in greeting Trump's presidency, with Prime Minister Bill English reportedly saying earlier in the week that he was positive the two countries would maintain good relations.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 2 killed in bomb attack on sport fans in Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Two persons were killed and five others wounded Friday evening after a bomb struck the ground of Buzkashi, a national game, in the Afghanistan's northern province of Balkh, provincial police spokesman said.

"The initial information found two persons were killed and five others wounded after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated at a Buzkashi ground in Khulm District. The causalities were shifted to a hospital in provincial capital of Mazar-i-Sharif city," spokesman Shir Jan Durrani told Xinhua.

The incident took place at around 4:30 p.m. local time, and police launched an investigation into the case, he added.

Read the full story at Xinhua